Kenyan Taxi Drivers Give Govt. 7-Day Ultimatum To Ban Uber

Kenyan Taxi Drivers Give Govt. 7-Day Ultimatum To Ban Uber

Taxi drivers in Kenya’s capital Nairobi have given the government a seven-day ultimatum to ban Uber drivers, who use a smartphone taxi ailing service to get customers, from operating in the city.

The traditional taxi operators threatened to paralyze taxi operations in the city and hold demonstrations until their demands are met, The Star reported.

Kenyan taxi operators have decried that Uber drivers, who charge nearly half of the fees other taxi drivers charge, are taking their customers and driving them out of business.

Uber Technologies Inc is a San Francisco-based company that allows users to order for taxi services on their smart phones, at cheaper fares compared to the traditional taxis.

The entry of Uber into Nairobi has been met with threats and protests, just as it has happened in most of the 250 cities where it has operations, since it was launched in the East African nation a year ago.

Turf wars between the taxi operators and Uber drivers have escalated in the past two days, as allegations of intimidations and threats on Uber drivers and their clients have emerged.

According to police in Nairobi, some Uber drivers have attacked and some their car tyres were slashed. The police said on Tuesday two people were arrested for allegedly smashing the windscreen of an Uber taxi, BBC reported.

The violence has been linked to disgruntled taxi operators who feel that the cheaper fares charged by Ubers are driving them out of business.

The taxi operators have denied allegations of violence against Uber drivers, adding that they were instead engaging in genuine taxi business.

“It is they who have been attacking us while trying to get us out of business,” Mwangi Mubia, a member of Kenya Union of Taxi Operators KUTO, told a press conference on Wednesday.

Earlier this week, Kenya’s Ministry of Interior confirmed reports of violence against Uber drivers.

“Such barbaric acts cannot and shall not be tolerated. Business rivalry should never be settled through attacks and intimidation but rather through established mechanism of resolving disputes,” a twitter update from the interior ministry said.

Last week, Uber send a statement to their driver in Nairobi asking them to keep a low profile as it worked with authorities and other sector player to resolve the matter.

Uber, considered one of the fastest-growing companies globally, has come into serious head wind with regulators in France, Spain, Netherlands and South Africa, where police impounded 33 Uber vehicles in Cape Town in a dispute over what type of permits drivers should hold.

The entry of Uber into traditionally taxi-dominated markets worldwide has sparked off protests and cases of violence, with France being the latest European country to taste the Taxi-Uber turf tensions as her taxi operators protested against Uber, early this year.